Welcome to the Writers' State

The O.Henry stamp, on sale now
from the USPS.
The South has a rich heritage of storytelling. As I once wrote on this blog: "After all, there are enough quirky characters, class tensions, long-rooted melancholies, traditions, religions, accents, and storytellers in the region to fill millions of volumes."
And while I recognize that Mississippi has created once of the richest gumbos of authors and books, I contend that my home state of North Carolina offers its own fertile ground for creativity.
I know most people first think of Thomas Wolfe, Maya Angelou, Jerry Bledsoe, or even William Sidney Porter (aka O.Henry) when they think of North Carolina writers.
But this state also has been home to Clyde Edgerton, David Brinkley, Doris Betts, Charles Kuralt, Edward R. Murrow, Jill McCorkle, Kaye Gibbons, Lee Smith, and even Zelda Fitzgerald. Zelda once spent an infamous spell in an Asheville institution.
It's almost one year to the day since Doris Betts died. I was lucky enough to meet her and to review some of her books. What an amazing woman. Read Souls Raised from the Dead. You won't be sorry.
North Carolina also has many famous sites that have been written about, towns that were the inspiration for fictional locations, and hidden gems that are of historical value for those who love literature. One of my favorites is a little-known garden and cemetery in Greensboro where O.Henry's parents and grandparents are buried.
Now there's an online database for all of us who are fascinated by this literary heritage. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro has spent years researching locations of fictional towns and the hometowns of over 3,000 authors.
Recently featured in Our State magazine, the database is finally getting its due for all the hard work. And this will be an ongoing project for UNCG as the state continues to produce new authors, and to provide the backdrop for compelling reads.
If you'd like to peruse that database and its map of storytelling and storytellers, click here.
And if you need something to read, look up any of those authors I listed above. They have an incredible number of books ready to entice you.

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget Orson Scott Card, much as we may hate his politics. My middle school was in "Ender's Game." :)